The Impact of Sport Participation on Bone Mass and Geometry in Male Adolescents

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Exercise is an effective approach for developing bone mass and adolescence is a key period to optimize bone health. However, sports-specific training may have different effects on bone outcomes. This study examined the differences on bone outcomes between osteogenic (football) and nonosteogenic (swimming and cycling) sports and a control group in male adolescents.


One hundred twenty one males (13.1 ± 0.1 yr) were measured: 41 swimmers, 37 footballers, 29 cyclists, and 14 controls. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry measured bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content at lumbar spine, right and left hip, and total body. Hip Structural Analysis evaluated bone geometry at the femoral neck. Quantitative ultrasound evaluated bone stiffness at both feet.


Footballers had significantly higher BMD at total body less head (7%–9%), total hip (12%–21%), and legs (7%–11%) compared with all groups and significantly higher BMD at the femoral neck than controls (14%). Cyclists had higher BMD at the trochanter (10%) and bone mineral content at the arms (10%) compared with controls. Geometrical analysis showed that footballers had significantly higher cross-sectional area (8%–19%) compared with all groups, cross-sectional moment of inertia (17%) compared with controls and section modulus compared with cyclists (11%) and controls (21%). Footballers had significantly higher bone stiffness compared with all groups (10%–20%) at the dominant foot and (12%–13%) at the nondominant foot compared with swimmers and controls.


Adolescent male footballers exhibited higher bone density, geometry, and stiffness compared with swimmers, cyclists and controls. Although swimmers and cyclists had higher bone outcomes compared with controls, these differences were not significant.

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